Jesus’ Teachings – Luke 18 35-43

Readings for this week September 28 – October 2.
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Day 1  – Who Has Their Eyes Open

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 18: 31-37

This is the last healing story in Luke’s gospel. Jesus is on his final journey up to Jerusalem with his disciples. Right through his gospel Luke has been speaking about blindness and vision. Do you see this Jesus? Can you see who he is? This episode is set between several others. Those who have the advantages and should have their eyes open seem blind, while those disadvantaged or outsiders seem to see the clearest. A rich ruler has come to Jesus. He is full of himself and his accomplishments and upon hearing Jesus’ requirements he goes away dejected. He cannot see that exchanging trust in wealth for trust in Jesus is a good deal. He is blind. Luke goes on to tell of Zacchaeus, hated and ostracized, yet he sees both himself, and Jesus, with new eyes. As was the practice of rabbis, Jesus has been teaching his disciples as they travel. They have lived with Jesus, seen the miracles, heard the lessons and warnings yet “they did not understand” 18:34. Their sight was limited.
Now comes a blind beggar. Unable to join the travellers on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he begs on the side of the road, reliant on the kindness of others just to survive. Perhaps because of his blindness he relies on his other senses. He has obviously heard tales of Jesus of Nazareth. He has listened, he has pondered, and he has believed the scriptures that promise the arrival of a Messiah who will free people from their bondage. The rich young ruler tried to come to Jesus on his own merits. The beggar “sees” his own poverty, both physical and spiritual, and calls out to Jesus based solely on recognising who Jesus is.
All of us must come to God, not on the basis of who we are, but only on the basis of who he is. Hearing and learning about God’s character begins the process of opening our eyes to our own poverty and blindness.

Questions to Consider
In my life, how has a ‘lack’ been the doorway to seeing and knowing God better?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me learn more about you. Show me the areas of my life where I am ‘blind’ to my own need. I recognize that I can only come to you because of your invitation and your offer of grace, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 2  – Reaching Out

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 18: 35-39

The blind beggar calls out, not “Jesus of Nazareth” but “Jesus, Son of David”. In doing so he wasn’t naming the town Jesus came from but the purpose that he came for. The title Son of David had been prophesied around Jesus’ birth by the angel sent to Mary, but this is the first time it is publically proclaimed. The beggar recognised that Jesus was coming as the Promised one of God, the one to re-establish the throne of David, deliver Israel from their enemies, and the one who would reign forever. Quite extraordinary clarity for a blind man who would have been considered one of the ‘expendables’ by this neighbours. One commentator observes that he “possesses almost unparalleled insight” J Green.
Nevertheless, “those who led the way” or “those in front” tried to hush him up. They may have been just those ahead in the crowd, but perhaps Luke is hinting that they may have been leaders, people of higher status, even Jesus’ own disciples who elsewhere showed a tendency to control who made it close to Jesus (18:15-17). It is likely the crowd thought this poor and disabled man was outside the boundaries of God’s grace. For this man, and often for us, the crowd is wrong. Reaching out to God may require some perseverance. It may irritate or even alienate some people around us. Our longing for something more of God, a closer experience or deeper commitment may well be threatening to others who are happy with the status quo. The beggar refused to settle for his prescribed role of helpless and hopeless. He would do whatever it took, shout louder and longer, persist in the face of doubt and opposition. Maybe you must also.

Questions to Consider
What stops me coming to God?
Am I put off by people who pour cold water on my desire for God?
What action or attitude might I need as a way of ‘shouting out’ to God?

Prayer
Father God, I do not want to settle for anything less than a real, growing relationship with you. Give me courage to persevere, whether others encourage me or not, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 3  – What Do You Want?

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 18:35-40

Heading for Jerusalem, Jesus teaches his followers as they journey along. But he is willing to stop and be interrupted when he encounters faith and expectation from the blind beggar. Jesus orders the man to be brought to him. How many of us can name the person or people instrumental in bringing us to know Jesus. To those around us, we may be only one link in that process – but never underestimate the importance of the small steps that lead someone to faith. This may be the greatest service we can offer to another person.
Jesus asks the man now standing before him, “What do you want me to do for you?” We might have thought it was obvious! Yet for some reason it was important that the man’s desire be articulated. Perhaps it was to make clear that he wasn’t merely asking for alms. Perhaps it was to encourage faith to grow as he is forced to say out loud what he is asking Jesus to do for him. In effect Jesus is helping the man (and the crowd as witnesses) clarify both his request and demonstrate his belief in Jesus’ power to act on his behalf.
This may be something that would help us in both our own prayers and in working with others. Saying a general “God bless me…” is a bit general and vague. In our relationships with others asking, “How do you want me to pray for you?” or “What is it you want Jesus to do for you?” may help people focus on whether they believe God can and would want to help them. It might clear up misunderstandings and reveal barriers to faith. Jesus wasn’t afraid of asking people to be specific. We need to be specific also.

Question to Consider
Who was a part of my coming to faith? Thanks God and pray for them today.
For whom might I be one link in the chain that leads them to God?
Will I take that step to help even if I never see the final outcome?
Do I make specific requests of God? If not, what holds me back?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for using someone like me in bringing people to know you. Help me to be bold in asking you specifically when I am in need, trusting that you delight in giving good gifts to your children, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 4  – The Eyes of the Heart

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 18: 35-43
Jesus’ disciples have been slow to grasp his mission and what awaits him in Jerusalem – even when Jesus has repeatedly spelt it out. In terms of Jesus coming as Messiah, the disciples expected instant action. They seemed blind to how the kingdom arrives – like a seed, yeast, a mystery, now and not yet.
We can also be slow to see what God is doing; perhaps because of our own expectations. The disciples had difficulty seeing that glory could come through suffering. Do we miss God’s direction and actions because we do not want to see those parts of his call that take us on a hard road? It is easy to cling to the good bits and shy away from the demanding paths. Just as for Jesus, the road God calls us to may be an uncomfortable one.
Jesus has asked the beggar a straight forward question, and received a straight forward answer, “Lord, I want to see.” Jesus’ response is also straight forward, “receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” The beggar had somehow understood that Jesus’ orientation was toward the poor and needy, and on that basis he makes his plea. Seeing his window of opportunity the man seizes the moment, and boldly asks for mercy and for his sight to be restored. What was prophesied in Isaiah and proclaimed in the Nazareth synagogue (recovery of sight to the blind 4:18) is demonstrated by Jesus, the King ushering in the kingdom.
The beggar had lived in a dark world, blind by human standards. Nevertheless, he saw the promise of God made flesh and blood in Jesus, the Son of David. He heard, he believed, he asked and he received. In many ways this final healing story in Luke is of the exemplary disciple. It finishes with the man leaving his life of begging on the fringes of society, sidelined, as he joins Jesus and his followers, praising God as he goes. The sight that counts is what the heart sees.

Question to Consider
We are asked to have faith in God, rather than faith for something. Discuss the difference.

Prayer
Lord, teach my heart to be open to you, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)

 


 

Day 5 – Sidelined

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 18: 35- 43
It’s lonely sitting here on the side of the road
Sidelined, left out, good for nothing – except begging.
And yet being with others is painful too.
There’s so much bustle up and down the road
Places to go, people to see, important work that can’t wait – but I have to wait.

Don’t you think that I want to be there too? Useful, making a difference
And Jesus walks this road – things happen where he is
And don’t I want to tail along behind! But I sit here on the roadside
Suspended in time, watching other people live like a parade gaily passing me by

I’ve tried calling out, “Jesus, don’t you see me?
Jesus, please, please have mercy
I can’t change by myself.  I feel so stuck, as if I’m tied to these old rags
I can’t even throw off this cloak to get to you.

People try to tell me I’m OK, or at least to make the best of it –
After all nobody’s got it perfect.
But I want to be with You
I want to know You.  Really know You. I want to see You.

And what is my blindness?
My blindness is never to see myself free from these beggar’s robes.
My blindness is not seeing what You are doing.
My blindness is not seeing where I can fit in.
Jesus, my blindness is not seeing You.

Please don’t pass me by
You have so much to do, and so many people needing you
But can You stay with me on the roadside?
Can you take my hand and describe the road ahead?
Tell me that it’s not too late for me?
Jesus, can you wash away all this dirt that keeps me blind?
Have mercy on me! I want is to walk with you – always.

Prayer
Lord, I want to see, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)